Speakers Spotlight: Jonathan Evans, Lumo | Pocket Gamer.biz

So that you start the year in style, Pocket Gamer Connects London takes place from January 13-14, 2015 in Vinopolis.

And tickets are available now.

To give you a clue of what to expect, we’re putting the spotlight on our speakers for a deeper look at the personalities who will be on stage at PG Connects London 2015.

Keep it surreal

Jonathan “Jogo” Evans is a game designer who loves to combine creative inventions with surreal imagination. At Jogo, however, the player and his understanding and enjoyment of every moment of the gaming experience come first.

His influences range from modern art and cinema to photography and science. If Jogo weren’t making games, he’d probably be writing novels or comics because he can’t really do much but make up things.

Pocket Gamer: We showcase the best of the UK at Pocket Gamer Connects. How have British game developers influenced your gaming life?

Jonathan Evans: A huge amount. I think back to the late nineties when I was in college and formulating my plan to get into the gaming industry. My favorite game back then was a nice little sci-fi racer from Psygnosis (Sony Liverpool) called Wipeout 2097. This series of games has been with me throughout my career as a developer and as a player.

Wipeout was gameplay sensation, a distilled experience of great design and breathtaking graphics. That really encouraged me to become a game creative.

Aesthetic overload – Wipeout 2097

Looking beyond this game, how many hours have I spent raiding tombs in Crackdown and jumping through a town or collecting millions of LEGO studs? And today – so much inspiration and encouragement from (often new) friends in the UK indie game development scene. I wouldn’t be here without her!

Why is user acquisition such a challenge in the mobile business today?

We have the twin tornadoes of the satiety of mobile games and the complexities of modern life.

People don’t have time to play, and even if they take their phone out to play a game, they could easily land on Twitter or Pinterest instead. That’s the irony of cell phones – they bring us countless millions of gamers, but then they take away all of us with their alternate conversations.

We are on the cusp of a new arms race for mobile games. Games need exceptional graphics to be noticed by Jonathan Evans

So, all of those games in the app stores are making it hard to get noticed, and all of these other apps and activities and next week’s games are making it extremely difficult to get players to stay.

There are many things you can do to give yourself a better chance of survival. Making an excellent, visually amazing, and incredibly usable game is crucial. It is equally important to target Apple and Google – they can bring you millions of players, so it is useful to think of these platform owners as some kind of customer. Learn what they want and try to cater to their needs and wants.

Finally take responsibility for your company! Yes, the numbers and finances of monetization aren’t the sexy bit about game making, but once you master that side of things, you can keep making games!

What are currently the biggest challenges for game companies when it comes to publishing abroad?

Well, the first major hurdle is the easiest to overcome. Translate your game. That should be easy these days – while it’s not cheap and adds a lot of time and error, but be prepared to accept that.

It will be more complex to reach players in some of the emerging markets. Korea is a huge market, but you probably need a Korean publisher to get ahead in the gaming market there. The same goes for China – there are amazing opportunities, but you need to maintain business contacts in those areas.

Will Lumo Delivery’s graphics be popular around the world?

And sometimes that means learning what kinds of games they want. Many of our beautiful, elegant indie games have negligible market attractiveness in China and Korea, so you need to research those areas before attempting to publish them there.

How can indie developers adapt to survive in the mobile economy?

The first thing indies have to accept is that evolution is not about the survival of the fittest, but about those who can best adapt to a changing environment. And this change is continuous. It doesn’t matter how great you were in 2013, by 2015 the rules will all be different and you will be outdone by some other crazy upstart.

It will be the more polished and usable games that survive. Jonathan Evans

I would also say that polish and ease of use are becoming increasingly important to indies. We already have the creativity and vision, but when that normalizes and there are many wonderful, moving, and exciting games to choose from, it will be the more sophisticated and useful ones that will survive.

Will new technologies such as wearable tech and VR change the mobile landscape?

I’m not very worried about VR for the next few years, at least not when it comes to mobile gaming. Perhaps it is special when the technology is indistinguishable from your everyday sunglasses, but I suspect it will be a few more years.

Other wearable technologies – like smartwatches – are more exciting. When you can choose between two buttons on a small screen, you can make a decision, and that’s at the heart of gaming. I am very interested in smartwatches as independent play devices and as extensions to the input / output systems of your phone.

What are you looking forward to the most about Pocket Gamer Connects?

It’s great to see smaller developers share their knowledge with the big players. We can all learn from one another, and we must borrow methods from one another in order to survive in the chaotic years that lie ahead.

What is your forecast for the mobile gaming industry in 2015?

We are on the cusp of a new arms race for mobile games. Games need exceptional graphics to be noticed – this is driven by hardware manufacturers and platform owners as well as by gamers. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in the console industry. Mechanical elegance will bring fewer gamers through the door than great graphics.

You will still get your occasional wild and inexplicable break all the rules, but they will stay in a flash in a bottle and the hunt for that kind of wild luck is not good business for career developers.

To address this, I think more seasoned indies will band together to form powerful collaborations and use outsourcing and asset store purchasing to facilitate high quality product development.

It’s a different development. Scary but exciting!

Get your tickets for Pocket Gamer Connects London 2015 here!

Don’t forget to keep up to date with the content of our speakers using the hashtag Speaker Spotlight.

And you can watch videos of our speakers at PG Connects Helsinki 2014 here.

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